November 22, 2016

State wants waiver on food benefits work requirements

Photo Credit: Paul Sableman cc

The state wants to extend a waiver that allows the state to waive work requirements for federal food benefits.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported the news of the proposed waiver coming from the embattled state Human Services Department. The department previously sought to reimplement the work rules for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, but a federal judge blocked the request.

Earlier this year, a federal judge slammed HSD for doing the work of creating new rules and procedures for the work requirements while not working toward compliance with a decades-old consent order.

Last week, a federal judge named a Texas administrator as a “special master” to oversee the department’s food benefits functions. The administrator, Lawrence M. Parker, will be in charge of moving the state toward compliance with the 1990 consent decree.

A spokesman for HSD told the New Mexican said the state requested the waiver “because of a court injunction that prevented the department from implementing the work requirements.”

The current waiver, put in place in large part because of the stagnant job climate in the state, expires in March.